Annual Stakeholder Meeting

We had an unprecedented turnout at our annual Stakeholder Meeting at Aviva last month, with over 70 attendees from the business, education, community and voluntary sectors.

At the meeting we announced our new proposals to work in secondary schools to inspire disadvantaged young people aged 11-16 about possible futures through personal encounters with people at work and university and thereby motivate them to aim higher and work harder at school.

We have already done some work in this area through the Girl’s Enrichment Mentoring project at Huntington School. The aim of the project is to support Year 11 girls who are not fulfilling their potential by raising aspirations and achievements, increasing self-esteem and ultimately life chances. The girls are supported by a group of students from the University of York as they undertake a series of workshops, culminating in a challenge through which they aim to achieve a personal goal.

This year, for the first time, the York Women’s Network were also involved. They delivered a confidence building workshop for the girls at Aviva. We heard from Kelly Elphick, HR Business Consultant, Aviva who commented that they had wanted to open the door of the organisation and enable the girls to see beyond their subjects. By making business professional and personal development tools relevant to the girls they aimed to get them to think differently, to give them self-confidence and self-belief. Laura Scott, Huntington School, highlighted the positive impact that this interaction with both university students and business professionals had had on the girls.

Dave Ellis, Headteacher, York High illustrated the very difficult circumstances faced by some of his pupils and explained how these pupils often lack the basic toolkit that they need to be able to create the futures that they would like.  He indicated that employers can make a real difference to these young people and can offer them hope.

His thoughts were echoed by Nik Miller, Director, The Bridge Group; an independent, not-for-profit, policy association promoting social mobility through higher education.

Nik commented on the importance of access to role models in raising young people’s aspirations and ambitions; brokering access to networks and inspiring young people to be resilient. He also suggested that a strong and sustained link between schools and employers will result in benefits for both; employers can help to support schools in shaping and inspiring their future workforce.

We are looking for employers to support these new proposals in a number of ways. We particularly need employees who would be willing to act as role models and talk about what they do and how they got there and employers who might be willing and able to get involved in an annual take-over event for young people at their workplace. If you can help, let us know!